Tempering Chocolate – what’s it all about
The right way to temper chocolate may seem like an elusive trade secret but with plenty of practice anyone can temper like a chocolate connoisseur.
The tempering process is important for creating chocolate treats due to the unique structure of cocoa butter and how it forms from a liquid into a solid. Essentially, cocoa butter will only form a dense crystalline solid structure when it has been heated and cooled to just the right temperature through the tempering process. This gives you a beautiful shiny, glossy finish and the lovely snap that makes chocolate so enjoyable. If the chocolate hasn’t been properly tempered, it will be streaky dull and greyish in colouring and the chocolate will be quite brittle and crumbly.
Tempering chocolate correctly will take patience and practice; you will also need the right tools to make sure you get it right. The key is to heat it up slowly and then allowing it to cool evenly to the right temperature.
The most important tool to have to for chocolate tempering is a chocolate thermometerthat takes a reading nearly instantly. You don’t want to use a meat thermometer or other gauge as you will need to work quickly to get the results you want.
Chocolate tempering tips
- Use a rubber spatula (not a wooden or metal spoon) for stirring chocolate. Melt about two thirds of your pre-chopped chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Once it’s melted, add the rest of your chopped chocolate and let the residual heat slowly melt the bits down. Use the thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature as the chocolate cools. Once it reaches about 31-32°C for dark chocolate, 30-31°C for milk chocolate or 27-28°C for white chocolate, it’s ready to use.
- Many professionals will cool their chocolate by spreading out ¾ of the melted chocolate onto a cool marble surface using a palette knife. This helps the chocolate cool more quickly and evenly. Use a scraper to scrape up the cooled chocolate back in to the melted chocolate and let the residual heat bring it back up to the right temperature.
- Tempering can also be attempted in the microwave by heating up the chocolate in15 second intervals and stirring it regularly to ensure the chocolate doesn’t overheat. Remove from the microwave when there are still a few bits of chocolate that haven’t melted completely and stir to incorporate.
Courtesy Nestle bakers corner.